Ray Sanchez resigned from the position of Valencia High School girls volleyball coach on Friday afternoon.
Sanchez received an email from Valencia vice principal Josh McDonald on Friday morning at 10:30 asking him to come and meet during his prep period. Afterwards, Sanchez sent an email that stated he was resigning from the position at noon.
Coaching at the school for over 20 years, Sanchez had consistent success with the Vikings, especially in recent years. In 2015, Valencia was the undefeated Foothill League champion and reached the CIF-Southern Section Division 1A championship game.
In both 2016 and 2017, the Vikings had earned a share of the Foothill League title.
Though there was success on the court, Sanchez was trying to make strides personally as a coach. Roughly a year ago, Sanchez met with McDonald and principal Stephen Ford to talk about how he acted towards the players.
“There was one concern about my demeanor, interaction with the players and how I was conducting myself with how demanding I could be or how hard I was pushing those kids and not taking enough consideration for nurturing those players and letting them know how much I actually care about them,” Sanchez said.
The coach invested time into bettering himself, understanding that he could not continue to lead the program if he didn’t improve.
He had made progress and said that the team had great chemistry to begin this season. An altercation during a match against Golden Valley, however, made that progress moot.
A line judge, who was a freshman Valencia volleyball player, had made the wrong call on a ball that had gone out of bounds, initially saying that the ball was in. Both the Golden Valley coach and Sanchez agreed that the ball was out and the officials had overruled the call, giving the Grizzlies the point in a close match.
Shortly after in the game, Sanchez said he had seen the Golden Valley coach cross to the other side of the court to talk to the line judge and was upset by it. Officials forced the coach back to the Golden Valley bench and the game continued.
During postgame handshakes, Sanchez mentioned to the Golden Valley coach that he thought it was out of line to talk to the line judge. The Golden Valley coach began to defend his actions, which caused Sanchez to raise his voice.
“People can say a lot of negative things about me, but when it comes to defending my players, I’m never going to not defend a player,” Sanchez said. “I’m never going to allow someone to accost a player, especially a freshman kid who’s doing the best she can. That I don’t regret. I do regret a shouting match, I do.”
Sanchez, who graduated from Canyon High School in 1990, said that he has already received coaching offers but is unsure of when he’ll return to coaching.
“Maybe it’s time to take a step back,” he said. “I don’t know that I would have come back next year.
“When I was coaching matches … I would be my worst self. I was very frustrated and that would convert to anger and I was unhappy. I’m not going to miss that feeling of frustration and anger, that’s not who I am in my nature, I think a lot of people … who only ever see me coaching matches, they have this very strong image of who I am and just kind of ranting lunatic on the sideline and that’s not who I am when I’m at my best or even at my normal. That’s how I am when I’m at my worst.”
Kristin Dolan, who was named an assistant coach this season, will take over as interim head coach. Sanchez has full faith in her and would like to see her take over the program as the permanent head coach.
He also wants to continue to support Valencia volleyball and even come to a few matches this season, with Dolan’s permission.
“If they’ll have me and if I’m not going to be a distraction,” Sanchez said, “hopefully I can be there throughout the season because I do love those kids and they mean so much to me.”